The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 1

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 1

There is an alternate cover here.In this multiple parallel universes of the Twelve Related Worlds, only an enchanter with nine lives is powerful enough to control the rampant misuse of magic--and to hold the title Chrestomanci... The Chants are a family strong in magic, but neither Christopher Chant nor Cat Chant can work even the simplest of spells. Who could have dreamed...

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Title:The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 1
Author:Diana Wynne Jones
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Edition Language:English

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 1 Reviews

  • Laura

    Diana Wynne Jones is a delight to read. Understated, clever, and filled with dry humor, this book was very hard to tear myself away from. The escapades of the Chant boys are ridiculously fun.

    I was introduced to Diana Wynne Jones by Miyazaki's animated version of her book, "

    ", which I enjoyed reading after seeing the film. I picked up "The Chronicles", having heard that Jones' "Chronicles of Chrestomanci" series was superior to the "Harry Potter" books. Though "Harry Potter"

    Diana Wynne Jones is a delight to read. Understated, clever, and filled with dry humor, this book was very hard to tear myself away from. The escapades of the Chant boys are ridiculously fun.

    I was introduced to Diana Wynne Jones by Miyazaki's animated version of her book, "

    ", which I enjoyed reading after seeing the film. I picked up "The Chronicles", having heard that Jones' "Chronicles of Chrestomanci" series was superior to the "Harry Potter" books. Though "Harry Potter" is enjoyable and addictive, the "Chronicles" is wonderful on an entirely different level -- the "Harry Potter" books are fast-food, whereas "the Chronicles" is an exquisite dish, to be savored and pondered (perhaps that's a dumb analogy, but I think it makes the point). The world that Jones has created is marvelous and complex, yet entirely believable.

    This first volume of "The Chronicles" is composed of two separate novels, "Charmed Life", and "The Lives of Christopher Chant". "Charmed Life" centers around Cat Chant and his sister Gwendolen, two orphans who are adopted by the enigmatic Chrestomanci, and their escapades at Chrestomanci Castle. "Charmed Life" is fun, but I found "The Lives of Christopher Chant" to be superior and more engaging, overall.

    "The Lives of Christopher Chant" was, in a word, amazing. Jones' style is remarkable for so many reasons, one of which is the way she changes it to fit Christopher's age. His early years read like the dream-like, wonder-filled memories most of us form of our youngest childhood days, and as Christopher ages, the writing style becomes gradually more sophisticated and elaborate. The story of Christopher's youth is beautiful, and I won't attempt to summarize it. Stepping into his world, even through the limited medium of words, feels like a rare privilege, and does not once disappoint, right through the end of the book.

    I can't wait to read the next volume!

  • Adelina

    For Christmas this year, my sister asked us instead of buying her a present, if as our gift to her we would read any book she chose for us. I was happy to oblige the request because I know my sister has great taste in books, and would pick something accordingly. I was not disappointed with her choice of the first volume in the Chrestomanci series. And thank goodness she has the rest of the series I can now borrow too!

    She chose this book for me because I am a Doctor Who fan – or Whovian. If you w

    For Christmas this year, my sister asked us instead of buying her a present, if as our gift to her we would read any book she chose for us. I was happy to oblige the request because I know my sister has great taste in books, and would pick something accordingly. I was not disappointed with her choice of the first volume in the Chrestomanci series. And thank goodness she has the rest of the series I can now borrow too!

    She chose this book for me because I am a Doctor Who fan – or Whovian. If you watch Doctor Who or know anything about it, you know The Doctor is a Time traveler. Which reminded my sister of the Twelve Related Worlds. Although it’s not time travel – but rather world hopping of sorts.

    The Twelve Related Worlds are the only known “Worlds” out there. As the book description says, they are parallel universes. Within each World though, is a series of worlds. The whole “what if” this happened situation will create a spin off to a new world within that world’s universe. There are 9 worlds in a series – meaning there are 9 of you out there somewhere. And that is where the Chrestomanci comes in. A person born in a world, that does not have another on the other worlds, giving him 9 lives in 1 body.

    I highly recommend this book! It was a fascinating read, one that really pulled me from reality into a new world.

  • Martine

    Long before J.K. Rowling ever invented Harry Potter, Diana Wynne Jones penned the Chrestomanci series, in which children perform magic (or fail to do so) in worlds which resemble ours but are ever so slightly different. Like Rowling, Jones infused her fantasy novels for children with enough wit and interesting ideas to make them appealing to adult readers; unlike Rowling, she never made it big, although one of her books,

    , was adapted into an enjoyable anime movie by Hayao

    Long before J.K. Rowling ever invented Harry Potter, Diana Wynne Jones penned the Chrestomanci series, in which children perform magic (or fail to do so) in worlds which resemble ours but are ever so slightly different. Like Rowling, Jones infused her fantasy novels for children with enough wit and interesting ideas to make them appealing to adult readers; unlike Rowling, she never made it big, although one of her books,

    , was adapted into an enjoyable anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki a few years ago. It's a pity Jones is not better known in the world of children's fiction, as her work is as good as Rowling's, if not actually better. While they lack the puns and pseudo-Latin that make the Potter books such a delight, Jones' stories are exciting and well-paced -- more so than some of Rowling's books. They feature great magic, superb world-building and a psychological insight which I think beats Rowling's. Jones understands children well, which makes it easy to identify with her young protagonists, even if they occasionally perform acts of magic to which few of us can aspire.

    The first story in this two-book volume,

    , is set in a world which vaguely resembles today's England but seems a bit more old-fashioned and, well, magical. The protagonists are two orphaned siblings -- Eric Chant, nicknamed Cat, and his sister Gwendolen, a young witch of quite formidable powers. When the story opens, Cat and Gwendolen are taken to live with Chrestomanci, a mysterious man whose castle oozes magic and whose assistants are to teach them witchcraft. As always, Cat proves to be useless at magic. He feels stupid, doesn't feel at home in his new surroundings and generally spends a lot of time moping and feeling sorry for himself. Meanwhile, Gwendolen obviously excels at magic, but doesn't quite get the adulation she was expecting. Feeling ignored and insulted, she starts doing all sorts of terrible things to prove how powerful a witch she is. A battle of wills between Gwen and Chrestomanci ensues. Needless to say, things go horribly wrong, and people not just in this world but in all the parallel worlds of the universe may end up suffering for it, unless Cat and Chrestomanci can do something about it.

    is a great minor classic. It was my favourite book when I was twelve, and I can still see why -- it's bold, it's inventive, it has funny touches and it's very well put together (although the beginning is a tad slow). Like all good fantasy, it deals with big issues (who should be in charge of magical powers? What are the consequences of our deeds?), but what really makes the book the gem it is, is the characterisation. Cat is a bit too weak and passive to make for a dashing hero, but his frustration and loneliness are genuine, which makes his betrayal at the end all the harsher. For her part, Gwendolen makes a fabulously spoiled and selfish older sister; her tantrums rank among the highlights of the book, and her magic, while nasty and self-serving, undeniably has flair. As for Chrestomanci, who looks vague but might just be the most powerful enchanter in the world (or indeed in all the worlds), he's a brilliant character whom Jones rightly felt deserved a few more appearances in her oeuvre. Thus she devoted the second book in this volume,

    , entirely to Chrestomanci. A prequel to

    ,

    tells the story of Chrestomanci's childhood. Like

    , it features the usual fantasy staples of larger-than-life characters, travel between worlds and the discovery of unsuspected talents, but there's more to it: living goddesses, animals with magical powers, and heaps of spectacular action. For all its magic and non-stop action, though, what sets this book apart from other fantasy fare is the excellent way it deals with the more mundane aspects of life: divorce, friendship, loyalty, betrayal and thwarted dreams. Adult readers will find the story a bit more predictable than

    , but it's undeniably gripping and imaginative and features a great cameo by a cat. If you like magic and cats, chances are

    will be right up your alley.

  • Laura

    I read an article a few years back -- wish I could remember which publication; hopefully they've gone under -- which claimed that Diana Wynne Jones plagiarized

    for

    . As I recall, the accusation was largely based on these facts:

    (

    ) Harry Potter and Cat Chant are both young, male, British wizards who also happen to be orphans (and the reviewer inaccurately claimed that Cat wore glasses).

    (

    ) Harry and Cat are both taken to a place to learn magic.

    (

    ) What, you need more e

    I read an article a few years back -- wish I could remember which publication; hopefully they've gone under -- which claimed that Diana Wynne Jones plagiarized

    for

    . As I recall, the accusation was largely based on these facts:

    (

    ) Harry Potter and Cat Chant are both young, male, British wizards who also happen to be orphans (and the reviewer inaccurately claimed that Cat wore glasses).

    (

    ) Harry and Cat are both taken to a place to learn magic.

    (

    ) What, you need more evidence of plagiarism than that?!

    They also leveled their accusing pen at Neil Gaiman for daring to write

    , featuring a young, British, bespectacled boy learning about magic.

    Needless to say, Diana Wynne Jones has been writing excellent -- and ORIGINAL -- novels since before J.K. Rowling was alive (and so has Gaiman). But if this poorly-researched article led just one

    fan to discover the strange and beautiful world of Diana Wynne Jones, then I suppose it wasn't entirely a waste of space.

    Nothing against Rowling, BTW -- I'm just not a fan of myopic Potter fanatics who consider

    the be-all and end-all of fantasy.

  • Priya

    (First read in May 2011. Re-read in March 2016)

    Diana Wynne Jones's writing is the literary equivalent of a delicious cup of cocoa. :)

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